Forget About the Carbs!
There is deep meaning to baking.
“If you find something you love, it opens up doors to deeper levels of meaning.”
That’s not the message you’d expect to hear from the keynote speaker at a baker’s conference, but Peter Reinhart is not an ordinary baker. Reinhart was in Norwich recently teaching at the King Arthur Flour Baker’s Harvest Conference — an event that features an all-star line-up of bakers. Suffice to say that Reinhart is to bakers what Bob Villa once was to restorers of old houses—an author, teacher, celebrity and a national brand. His pioneering book, The Bread Baker’s Apprentice, is now in its 15th edition.
With the professional title of “Chef on Assignment” from Johnson and Wales University, Reinhart travels the country teaching and spreading the word that bread, as the staff of life, is more than a metaphor.
“A search for the meaning of life is what I found through baking,” said Reinhart.
Reinhart opened the conference with a speech that was one part pep-talk and two parts sermon, delivered outdoors under a tent to the 65 professional and amateur bakers assembled in Norwich for two days of intensive classes.
The trendy term among foodies nowadays is “transformation,” noted Reinhart, and “baking is an act of transformation — a radical change of one thing into something else."
Reinhart used his talk to instill in his students a higher purpose beyond the chemical transformation that occurs when bread is baked. A spiritual transformation takes place, too.
“Baking is a vehicle for storytelling,” said Reinhart. “Bread and cakes always seem to appear at religious and secular celebrations and they become associated with festivals.” From unleavened matzoh to Celtic Harvest bread, transmission of knowledge is what keeps these traditions and stories alive.
Reinhart offered one final insight before releasing his newly inspired students to their first workshop.
“Symbols are good, but if they don’t taste good they won’t endure. “
Do you like pizza? Check out Peter Reinhart’s pizza blog.